by Daniel Olsen
While the Utah State Aggies struggled in 2020, they have a new coach and new expectations in 2021. It’s time to pull out the crystal ball and see just how the upcoming football season will go for USU. With the kickoff of this game being 79 days away, it’s time to start with the preview of the rivalry game against the BYU Cougars.
The Old Wagon Wheel Rivalry
The Cougars hold a 49-37-2 advantage all time over the Aggies. They first played in 1922. However, the Old Wagon Wheel trophy started traveling with the winner in 1948. USU dominated the series until 1974 but has won only seven times since then. Part of the reason for this was former USU football player Lavell Edwards went on to be the greatest BYU coach ever. USU has kept somewhat even with the Cougars of late by winning four of the last ten contests.
2020-2021 Season in Review
While USU struggled with just one win in 2020, the Cougars enjoyed some success with just one loss. Their only loss was a close one to Coastal Carolina with just two days to prepare. They blew out most of their opponents. The only other school to come close to the Cougars was the UTSA Roadrunners. The Boca Raton Bowl capped off the best season in a decade for BYU with a 49-23 win over UCF.
BYU brings plenty of new faces which should keep the offense alive despite the departure of their leader Zach Wilson becoming the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Nacua brothers, Puka and Samson, will strengthen the receiving corps. If the new quarterback is even 90 percent of Zach Wilson, the offense should not take much of a hit at all. Expect Isaac Rex to continue to be a problem at the tight end spot. Jake Oldroyd didn’t need to kick any field goals in 2019 with the Cougars winning 42-14. He should be ready if his name is called though.
BYU has the most questions in the trenches. With Brady Christensen gone, can the BYU offensive line continue to create holes for speedy guys like Tyler Allgeier? With Khyris Tonga also gone to the NFL Draft, will the Cougars be able to pressure opposing offenses? Time will tell.
Players to watch for
The race for starting quarterback is perhaps the most intriguing. USU quarterback Andrew Peasley struggled last year. Will he keep his starting spot or will someone else get the nod? BYU has a legitimate three-horse race at quarterback. Will the job go to a dual threat like Jaren Hall, a traditional pocket passer like Baylor Romney or a wild card like Jacob Conover? The Cougars proved that depth was the key as they were able to beat a talented team like Boise State and an NFL QB with Jordan Love on Utah State in 2019. That was all done with their third string quarterback.
You can listen to the most recent #BigBluesday rivalry edition episode of The Hive Sports podcasts. Click here to listen on whatever platform you prefer.
Final Score Prediction
This will be tough. The Aggies will need to play perfect and BYU will need to be caught napping. While USU should be better than last year, there are still some holes to fill. BYU will also have to take a bit of a nosedive from their dream season last year. It’s a rivalry game so anything can happen. This could be like the 2014 game where USU overcomes being a double-digit underdog and shocks the Cougars. A quarterback or two might get banged up in this game. Could this be the first time in almost a decade that this ends in a one score victory? That’s what it will take, and perhaps the home team Aggies can get it done if it becomes a mud fight.
USU 38 BYU 35
Featured image courtesy Eli Lucero, The Herald Journal
One thought on “USU 2021 Football Predictions: Week 5 vs BYU”
The next two games for BYU will be tough. USU lost to Boise but the games will not be played at BYU. Go Cougs!! Beat USU and Boise!!